• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 6 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 6 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 6 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 9 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 12 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 12 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 12 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 12 days ago
  • Separationofpowers (9-5) impresses in the Frizette at Belmont Park.Posted 12 days ago
  • Roy H (4-5) lives up to favoritism in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.Posted 13 days ago
Breeders' Cup 2017

2013 Kentucky Derby: It's Time to Raise the Stakes

There have been a lot of questions surrounding the new 2013 Kentucky Derby qualification system. There has also been a lot of agreements and of course a few disagreements. Until we see the finished product and which 20 horses make field I’ll be reserved about making my overall judgment. So far, however, I have yet to see a horse earn a position that would not have under the old system. Therefore, I can’t disagree a great deal thus far.
The consensus is that anywhere between 35 to 50 points is going to be the amount that earns the final spot. Since that is presumed to be accurate we have seen three contenders earn their position with a win in one of the last three preps. Those races fall into the first leg of the Championship Series and 50 points were awarded to the winner. So, by all accounts these three will be racing in the main event on the first Saturday in May.
Risen Star Stakes: I’ve Struck a Nerve
Fountain of Youth: Orb
Gotham: Vyjack
Some race fans may believe that these recent win and you’re in races have given too much praise, credit or points to the winners. But, even if you still don’t think that any of these horses have done enough to earn their place in the starting gate, one stat proves that they have.
Each of these races ran for a total purse of $400,000. Each winner took home their share which equals $240,000. Under the former qualification system that amount in graded stakes earnings would be enough for them to qualify almost every time. To provide further evidence that Orb, Vyjack and I’ve Struck a Nerve haven’t unfairly earned a spot, I went back and looked at recent winners in each of these stakes races.
What I came up with was pretty interesting.  Not only did I validate those wins as enough to earn a position in the 2013 Kentucky Derby but I also realized that this weekend is a very big turning point in the prep season. On deck is the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 San Felipe Stakes, two qualification races that have become very big stepping stones in the journey towards the claiming of the roses.
First, let me conclude my initial findings. Now, I am aware that other races outside of these three preps also qualified past winners to race in the Kentucky Derby and of course earn more graded stakes earnings along the way. But, recent history still proves that the winners of these Kentucky Derby preps almost always entered the field of 20. With the exception of injury, and few years in a row at the Gotham Stakes where no winner was moving, the winner always did.
Stakes winners dating from 2012 to 2004 
Risen Star WinnerKyDerby Entry Finish
El PadrinoYes13th
Mucho Macho ManYes3rd
Discreetly MineYes13th
Friesan FireYes18th
NotionalNo - Injury-
Lawyer RonYes12th
ScipionNo - Injury-
GradepointNo - Injury-
Gotham WinnerKyDerby Entry Finish
Stay ThirstyYes12th
Awesome ActYes19th
I Want RevengeNo - Injury-
Cowtown CatYes20th
Like NowNo-
Saratoga CountyNo-
FOY WinnerKyDerby Entry Finish
Union RagsYes7th
EskendereyaNo - Injury-
Quality RoadNo - Injury-
Cool Coal ManYes15th
Scat DaddyYes18th
First SamuraiNo - Injury-
High FlyYes10th
Read the FootnotesYes7th
Because this tells me that the Fountain of Youth, the Risen Star and Gotham have almost always been recent win and you’re in preps, I can’t argue that any of the three winners in 2013 are getting into the Derby due to a points bias. What I can argue is how important these preps have been over recent years.
Although the winners of these stakes may have earned a spot in the starting gate, the amount of times that it became a stepping stone to winning or racing well in the Kentucky Derby is minimal. The last time and may be the only time a winner came out of the Risen Star was War Emblem in 2002. As for the Fountain of Youth you have to travel back to Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Go for Gin in 1994. In the Gotham Stakes, Secretariat is still the only Kentucky Derby winner that raced in it.
The reason I am pointing out recent lack of Kentucky Derby success from these preps (only 1 top 3 finish by any of their winners) is because under the new system they have been included in the same leg of the championship series as the races we are going to see this weekend. But, when you pull that same data on the Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe Stakes you will notice a world of difference. For this reason, we may have reached the point in the Kentucky Derby prep season where we should begin to pay more to our winners and top three finishers.   
Earlier in my research of past winners for the Risen Star, FOY and Gotham, I know that I didn’t dig too far back (Only 9 years; 2004) but there is a reason for that as well. Inaugurated in 1981 it wasn’t until 2002 that the Tampa Bay Derby officially became a graded stakes race. Once that happened, it changed the minds of many trainers because the Tampa Bay Derby then became another option for graded stakes earnings. In 2004, Limehouse became the first Tampa Bay Derby winner to use the prize money for Kentucky Derby qualification and earn a spot in the field. Since 2004, every winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, with the exception of Odysseus in 2010 (injury), also qualified for the Kentucky Derby field.
Furthermore, in the last six years alone we have already seen two champions use this prep on their way to a Kentucky Derby victory; Street Sense ’07 and Super Saver ’10 (always bet a TB Derby horse in the KyDerby if he has two names that begin with S??). As you can see this is one reason why Verrazano is getting so much attention and the race itself is brewing with anticipation.
The San Felipe Stakes is a race that dates back much further than the TB Derby and has a much more successful and storied history. In fact, a total of 11 San Felipe Stakes horses have gone on to wear the roses, including our last Triple Crown winner Affirmed in 1978. Although the Tampa Bay Derby had a more recent derby winner it wasn’t by much: Giacomo 2005. Prior to that we saw three in four years: Fusaichi Pegasus ’00, Real Quiet ’98 and Silver Charm ’97. When you add this information to the equation it may make it clear why the 2013 showdown between Flashback and Goldencents has become so exciting.
I’m pretty confident that our first three Championship Series winners deserve their place in the starting gate for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. As you’ve also noticed I may be a little skeptical of their chances of winning. History only tells one side of the story however. Therefore, while I may doubt them to a certain degree based on trends, I most definitely have not reached the point where I’ve thrown them out completely. For starters, the second leg of the Championship Series is yet to come and they will be racing so it would be foolish for me to jump to any conclusions.
But, I am also intrigued by this stage of the Kentucky Derby trail. Derby fever is rising and it’s only going to keep getting more interesting from here.


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Older Comments about 2013 Kentucky Derby: It's Time to Raise the Stakes...

The 3rd place finisher in the Bredders Cup Juvenile should get AT LEAST as many points as the horse that wins the San Felipe or the Tampa Bay Derby. We're talking about a Grade 1 champioship race versus a couple of Grade 2 races, one of which (Tampa Derby) should be a Grade 3.
The San Felipe is not at all a good indicator of success in the kentucky Derby. In the last 25 years, only 2 winners have won the Derby, those being Sunday Silence (who won the Santa Anita Derby) and Fusiachi Pegausus (who won the Wood). Alysheba ran 2nd in the 1987 San Felipe to Chart The Stars.
The only tweaks I would make up to this point is I would give the BC juvi winner 50 pts, 2nd 20 points, 3rd 10pts (At least) The 2 yr old champ should be in no matter what!
The only tweaks I would make up to this point is I would give the BC juvi winner 50 pts, 2nd 20 points, 3rd 10pts (At least) The 2 yr old champ should be in no matter what!
It seems to me that one of the purposes of the new points system was to keep out obvious mis-fits like Trinniberg, who clearly had no business running in a route race. I can't recall if he took a spot of a legitimate contender or not, but that certainly was a possibility under the old system. It will be interesting after this Derby cycle concludes what changes they may to the system. Some tweaks no doubt will be made. On the whole I like the new system. They could have made the Derby an invitational only, but many would have found that to be less than desirable.
I have not been too impressed with the TB Derby fields as of late, but this year is certainly different. With the level of talent in this race, maybe we'll see another complete the TB/KY Derby double.
Nice work. I think horses need at least 40 points to make the derby, unless there are a few that have the points and elect not to go due to injury or the like. I do think that there will be a horse that uses the wild card races to get some extra points. If a horse is sitting at 30 points, because they finished 3rd or 4th in the 100 point prep race, I wouldnt be suprised to see them double back for the 1 mile derby trial.
Great Info Bryan.. Thx!
Sorry i didn't include this info but in case you don't know: other San Felipe / KyDerby winners: Sunday Silence, Alysheba, Affirmed, Lucky Debonair, Tommy Lee, Determine & Jet Pilot

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